Activities: 2006: Abstract: Pangratis

August 10, 2006 Ambassador Angelos Pangratis

Ambassador Angelos Pangratis
Deputy Head of Delegation, European Commission to the United States, Washington, D.C.

Topic:  The Future of EU-US Political and Economic Relationship.

Ambassador Pangratis started his briefing by offering the historical background of the European Union (EU). The EU, he said, started as a reaction to wars that claimed 75 million lives in the 20th century.  The EU’s basic aim was simple, to make such wars impossible.  The EU also grew out from a process of economic integration of Europe.  Our speaker underlined the fact that the European Union is not an empire of any specific people, they are an empire of the rule-of-law.  It is the union of states in the EU, but it is not a state, although it has some elements of a state.  Also, it is not an international organization, because its members remain sovereign states.  It is a unique example of an organization where the participating member states gave up a portion of their sovereignty, so that the they can act together in the EU, voluntarily.

Today, the EU has 457 million people in its 25 countries, said Ambassador Pangratis, and soon the addition of two new countries will give the Union a total of 500 million people.  The EU’s GDP is slightly higher than that of the United States, but is always ready and willing to work closely with the United States’ economy.  Our economic and trade relations with the U.S. is steadily growing, said the Ambassador. We call this concept “Transatlantic Economic Cooperation.”  In modern economies, new rules and regulations are needed; the United States and the EU need to be economically integrated just like the different EU countries have become integrated.  Europeans investment in Mississippi is about 3.5 billion dollars.  Around 35,000 high quality jobs in Mississippi are supported by EU investment money. 

The Ambassador spoke at great length about EU-U.S. cooperation on anti-terrorism.  He briefed the ELF membership by saying that today Europol (the police forces of the EU) are working closely with their American counterparts, and Europe is trying to learn from American experiences.  The European Union is also working actively to combat terrorism around the world.  For example, in Afghanistan, the Europeans provide 80% of the troops in the NATO International Security Force.  This means that the Europeans have sent, as of today, more than 20,000 military personnel and military police to the NATO forces.  Last year, the EU and its member states donated more than five billion Euros to support the Kabul government in Afghanistan. On the other hand, Iraq was a very difficult issue.  When the war started, many Europeans were against it, because they believed that military action would not solve the problem.  Within the last year, said the Ambassador, an important threshold was crossed.  Even those Europeans, who were convinced that the war was a bad idea, now accept that it is very important that democracy prevails.  In fact,” concluded Ambassador Pangratis, “today, we are very active in Iraq, to try to contribute to the reconstruction.  We welcomed and supported the new Iraqi government, and we are actively trying to strengthen our relationship through political dialogue.  We are also developing trade cooperation with the new Iraqi government.

© 2006 The Radványi Chair in International Security Studies, Mississippi State University.
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